Matcha Green Tea: The Life-Changing Leaf

Matcha is more than a ceremonial tea exclusive to the Far East. It is a powerhouse of nutrition that can be enjoyed in very unique and delicious ways!

Credit: Image by Sheri Giblin.

Matcha tea’s history is just as impressive as is its nutritional benefits. For more than a thousand years, people in China have been drinking matcha green tea and it eventually became a characteristic part of Japanese culture. Packed with chlorophyll and as many antioxidants as ten cups of regular tea, matcha is not for the light weight. Read on to learn about the incredible nutritional benefits of matcha tea.

Japanese tea leaves are left to grow in the shade in order to up their chlorophyll content. Alissa White of Matcha Source explains how this process works, “Matcha is always shade covered at the end of harvest. This limits the availability of sun light and forces the leaves to work harder to produce photosynthesis, and the result is higher levels of chlorophyll. Shade covering is what gives our matcha teas their unique nutritional and flavor profile.”

After being picked, the leaves are steamed, dried, and then ground into a fine powder. Unlike most tea leaves, which are steeped in hot water, match tea essentially dissolves the leaf powder in the water. That way, you are consuming the whole matcha tea leaves with each sip. And the benefits are quite striking, especially in relation to other notorious antioxidant powerhouses: matcha contains more than six times more antioxidants than goji berries, seven times more than dark chocolate, seventeen times more than wild blueberries, and more than sixty times the antioxidants in spinach.

Imagine green tea. What’s the first thing to come to mind? Antioxidants are probably at the top of the list, because green tea is full of the powerful EGCG, an antioxidant that is basically on the prowl for dangerous free radicals in the body. Now imagine this: one study shows that the EGCG available from drinking matcha is more than one hundred and thirty times greater than the amount of EGCG available from green tea. 

White says, “Matcha has caffeine, as does all tea. But matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid, which is also a natural mood enhancer responsible for increased concentration and focus. The combination of caffeine and theanine is a powerful and slow-release food which provides a sustained lift over several hours.” Zen Buddhist monks would actually drink matcha to remain alert and calm during meditation. Matcha effectively provides the boost without the jitters. Consumption of matcha also lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, helps with weight loss, and detoxifies the body.

So how should you go about preparing matcha in an appetizing way, especially if tea isn’t really you jam? According to White, “Matcha Source teas are delightfully flexible. I always encourage people, especially new comers, to explore all of the ways matcha tea can fit into your life. Most of my customers drink some version of matcha blended into a drink like almond milk lattes or have matcha blended in a morning smoothie. Matcha works really well sprinkled over yogurt or berries. Or, you can add it to salt for a savory taste to eggs and fish. Try matcha in desserts and parfaits, even bread rolls.” Get mixing (or cooking or baking!) and enjoy the incredible health benefits of matcha.

Image: Ejstanz